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Barriers and Facilitators to Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups in the Veterans Health Administration.

Decker SE, Matthieu MM, Smith BN, Landes SJ. Barriers and Facilitators to Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups in the Veterans Health Administration. Military medicine. 2023 Apr 27;

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INTRODUCTION: Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a multimodal evidence-based suicide prevention psychotherapy with barriers to full implementation. This study qualitatively examined barriers and facilitators to the DBT skills group treatment mode, which can be implemented as a stand-alone intervention. Using data from a national mixed-methods program evaluation of DBT in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), this is the first article to examine barriers and facilitators to DBT skills groups implemented with a DBT consultation team or as a stand-alone intervention. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A subset of data from semi-structured telephone interviews of six clinicians and three administrators (n = 9 respondents) was analyzed to provide complementarity and expansion on prior quantitative findings. The data were coded using an iterative process based on content analysis and a codebook based on the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services framework. The study was approved by the institutional review board for the Palo Alto VA Health Care System. RESULTS: Barriers and facilitators were organized by Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services domains of evidence, context, and facilitation. Results showed how reduced leadership support and low receptivity to providing DBT skills groups functioned as barriers and also identified a barrier not described earlier in the literature: the perception that this group could conflict with expanding access to care for more veterans. The results showed how leadership supported implementation, including by mapping clinic grids and supporting training, and also revealed how a supportive culture among providers facilitated division of labor between skills group providers, and how offering a treatment that filled a gap in services supported the group. At some sites, a provider with prior DBT experience was instrumental in starting DBT skills groups or developing ongoing training. CONCLUSIONS: Qualitatively analyzed barriers and facilitators to a group-delivered suicide prevention intervention, DBT skills groups, expanded on quantitative findings on the importance of leadership support, culture, and training as facilitators. Future work implementing DBT skills group as a stand-alone treatment will need to address the barrier of receptivity and perceived barriers about access to care.

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